THE SAGAN SERIES – A Reassuring Fable


Consider again that pale blue dot we’ve been talking about Imagine that you take a good long look at it. Imagine you are staring at the dot for any length of time and then, try to convince yourself that God created the whole universe for one of the ten million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. We can recognize here a shortcoming in some circumstances serious in our ability to understand the world. Characteristically, we seem compelled to project our own nature onto Nature. “Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work worthy of the interposition of a deity,” Darwin wrote telegraphically in his notebook. “More humble and I think truer to consider him created from animals.” We’re Johnny-come-latelies. We live in the cosmic boondocks. We emerged from microbes and muck. Apes are our cousins. Our thoughts and feelings are not fully under our own control. And on top of all this, we’re making a mess of our planet and becoming a danger to ourselves. The trapdoor beneath our feet swings open. We find ourselves in bottomless free fall. If it takes a little myth and ritual to get us through a night that seems endless, who among us cannot sympathize and understand? We long to be here for a purpose, even though, despite much self-deception, none is evident. The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Our commonsense intuitions can be mistaken. Our preferences don’t count. We do not live in a privileged reference frame. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.

99 thoughts on “THE SAGAN SERIES – A Reassuring Fable”

  1. Years of scientific, historical, and sociological evidence that obliterates the existence of the god of western civilization.

  2. Even though I am sad that Carl Sagan died, although it be before I was born,I think that he would be much more sad to see that the world hasn't changed that much since he had left…

  3. There are a lot of hardcore theists that doesn't tolerate science (= the abiltity to question a belief and research the facts) either.

  4. Can I re upload this video on my channel and put the reference in the description to this one? (I wont act like it is mine, but will show where I got it)

  5. Oh, Damn. The profound mind of Dr. Sagan never ceases to amaze me.  Humanity lost a great deal the day he died.

  6. I , you and everybody on this planet , was made for only two things . Don't dream that there's any other reason , or any unknown reason .
    You were made to , " Learn ", and you were made to " Work",  for mankind .

  7. But to examine our place in the cosmos is to see that we are at the frontier of the complexification of the known universe; the most novel and interconnected systems known are our cultures as expressed through the vast networks of humans on and offline. A simple idea is a vast set of interconnections and logical leaps, and these things abound in a beautiful system controlled by individual and collective will.

    The movement of ideas is powerful enough to take a black liquid from the crust of the Earth and fashion it into malleable materials to be shaped into styles and for purposes determined by the human minds which receive and transmit them, or to smash protons together at the fastest speeds they are smashed together anywhere in the universe, recreating Big Bang conditions for us to learn about where we came from.

    We are , as Sagan says, 'at least one of the ways that the cosmos can now itself'. Are these imperatives, to learn and to create, not given by simple examination of our position?

  8. Watching this video was the turning point towards the person I am today. 
    That's something applaud worthy. 

  9. I like this series, but unfortunately, your secular views are crappy. Religion does not state that all this universe was created for one shade of colour or a specific sect or religion or ideology. God made this pale blue dot that is suspended in a sun beam FOR ALL. For all humans, all religions, all colours, all species, so that we may know one another and be good to one another. That does not mean, that all of us will be successful, success will and can only be judged by your creator. This world is a test, a filter if u will, for the heart/soul.

    Fantasise all you want about interstellar travel, but it shall surely never happen, and even if it does you shall surely die and return to the lord of all that exists.

  10. Its sad, we live in a world where Super Bowl Halftime recordings and asinine "heaven and back" videos starring some 11 year-old kid and his con artist father rack up millions of views after a few weeks, but a video as profound and eloquent as this, and one that has the potential to change lives and reshape worldviews that has been out for nearly four years now gets less than 600,000.

    This is what's wrong with humanity and what hinders our progress as a species; too many of us simply don't care. 

  11. I wonder if Carl Sagan was still alive would be the world be a better place. I mean, except the many of great books he could write and achievements in science and popularising science. I wonder if he could make any influence to the U.S. government to start taking care of the environment, it could definitely change the entire world. I haven't heard of him until recently, and I am ashamed of my 24 years. I think he was one of the greatest humans that have ever lived on that planet. I see Neil deGrasse Tyson is trying to take his place, and he is maybe a great scientist but not even close to Carl Sagan by humanity..just in my opinion…

  12. The Earth was created some fourHUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO

    By aGGGGOOOOOODDDD

    As we can tell from looking at the bones of aJESUS saurus rex

    In conclusion, MOUNTAIN DEW IS THE BEST SODA EVER

  13. I've returned to these videos at several different points in my life since they were uploaded. Truly amazing words

  14. When I need an emotional, cognitive, and intellectual spark, I come to the Sagan Series. Science is just beautiful. It is a cognitive ecstasy.

  15. "…Knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better, by far to embrace the hard truth, than a reassuring fable.
    Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Our common sense intuitions can be mistaken. Our preferences don't count. We do not live in a privileged reference frame.
    If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal."

    Truer words can not be spoken 🙂

  16. I love Sagan and this video keeps me sane on bad days, but I take umbrage with one statement. Our planet is not fragile, it is only the fragility of humans that makes our world seem fragile. For we need it to suit our fragile needs for our survival, not its.

  17. up to now, I thpught that seeking for truth means beeing sad. and it might very well be, but I am uncertain now.

  18. More inspiring than any religious textbook ever written. Anybody want to join me in spreadings the gospel of The Church of Sagan.

  19. Sagan is one of the few people speaking like this who doesn't annoy me in the same way as religious fundamentalists. Mostly, the hate God orators say man created God because we are so arogent we need a holy creator. They then dismiss everyone who does not agree with them as less intelligent, proving their point about the arrogance of man. Sagan makes his point beautifully without sounding as tyrannical as a street preacher. Regardless of your beliefs ( I'm Christian) any open minded person will feels enriched by his speeches. I'm a teacher in a homogeneously Christian orthodox school, being Europe that means religion does not stand in the way of science education. We may discus other religions atheism and agnostic beliefs ( I find agnostic leanings the most natural state of a young teen). I would no more ask them to read Dawkins or listen to Hitchens than I would insist they dismiss Evolution in favour of creationism. Sagan videos are excellent mind opening discussion points. I wouldn't insist on them being played in schools – as too many adults would then push an agenda. I've played a few to 14 year olds and then kept my comments to answering facts ( who is that person – where does that picture come from). I like the over all messages, children appreciate a forum for exploring ideas and I've never had a single complaint – even from overtly religious parents.
    Many comments here see only an anti religion message. That saddens me, there is more beauty in this than a there is no God rant.

  20. "The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning"

  21. This is one of the most beautifull speaches ever created… My grandfather was also called Carl. We miss you Carl.

  22. Happy belated birthday Carl Sagan! Not sure how he would feel about sharing his birthday (November 9th) with such a fateful day for humanity (especially here in America), but I know if he was still alive today, he would continue to have faith that humanity would eventually make the right decisions in saving our planet and helping make it a better place. This man was such an inspiration to so many including myself. I can honestly say, he hugely influenced my decision in pursuing a career in science. Carl Sagan will live on forever through all his contributions to science and all that he has done trying to educate the general public about these extremely important matters.
    You will never be forgotten Carl Sagan! You inspired an entire generation of scientists and curious thinkers and will continue to inspiration many more generations to come!

  23. Our ancestors looked up at the sky, and saw something watching them. They believed a deity was guiding them, helping them, that they had some sort of higher purpose.

    We humans are a race of both great goodness and horrible, terrible darkness. We are a race that has climbed its way, tooth and claw, onto a chain of dominance of our planet. Or so we believe. But we cannot bring ourselves to think the reality: It is but chance, a domino effect, that we were able to "dominate" our planet, and even that is a farce. We have not defeated disease or hatred or ignorance. We are children, orphans, in our universe. We, in our naivete, decided to create a parental figure for ourselves: one that gave us our world, one that gave us our lives, one that gives us a future.

    Maybe we are wrong. But we can philosophize about it, pondering the nature of things as we always have done. I think that it is a great thing, our very design of our bodies. We are made out of small atoms that clung together, which created molecules which clung together, creating larger molecules, which created cells. And these cells clung together to create more complex cells. And these complex cells clung together to create more complex structures, tissues, which clung together to make organs, which combined to create an organism- Us. Maybe we, on Earth, are the only life that ever existed in our universe. Maybe there are no such things as aliens or gods. But we can dream and imagine about these. It is unlikely that we will, in our lifetimes, encounter a species as advanced as us, or more advanced. It is unlikely that, in our lifetimes, we will discover the answer to what allowed us to exist. But maybe there is no answer. Maybe it was just chance, just a domino effect, that allowed the atoms to combine into molecules to combine into cells to combine into tissue to combine into us.

    It is in our nature to explore. It is in our nature to think of ourselves as something better than animals, as if there is a line between us and them. But the truth is that there is not. We are, in all our glory, in all our so-called "civilization", just animals. And sometimes that side of us comes out. But sometimes we are able to place that aside, to become something more. We like to think something is after death, after life, but there isn't. death, for us, is the end. But nearly every second, there is a new beginning. sometimes it comes to an untimely end, and sometimes it lives to tell us its story.

    I wonder that, when- or if- an alien species or a more advanced version of ourselves or our machine children ever comes across the ruins of our Earth, what will they think? Will our story come to an untimely end, or will we be able to tell it, to spread it across the stars?

  24. This video saddens me to the bone. Has anyone ever watched a beautiful sunset or sunrise and said "This has confirmed my belief that everything was spawned by chance."? Or do they watch the sunrise/sunset and think to themselves, "This world had to be created by God."? I honestly don't know, but when I look around me and see the pros and cons of the meaning of life, I don't understand how it could possibly be a "chance expansion of matter" that has led us here today. If there WAS an enormous expansion of matter, I think it was caused by God.

  25. "If it take a little myth and ritual to get us through a night that seems endless, who among us cannot sympathize and understand?" Wow what a great quote

  26. Thanks Carl, you are an exception that proves the point, mankind on the average is not particularly intelligent. Iron American Dream on YouTube. Share it. Take a ride across the promised land. Enjoy your stay.

  27. It's kind of a test for us: can we withstand our own self-destruction before we collectively embrace each other and the world around us. It's our greatest challenge as a species and we are still several generations separated from embracing the hard truth. If we do survive our ignorance, we can begin the next chapter in our cosmic story. I can only wonder at what new challenges await us then.

  28. To this day, there is no evidence of the magical being that inhabits the sky.
       And what about the alienated, continue to fill the pockets of religious leaders!

  29. "If it takes a little myth and ritual to get us through a night that seems endless, who among us cannot sympathize and understand?"

  30. Whilst many would acknowledge that knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better, by far to embrace the hard truth, than a reassuring fable. For others, the powerful and the wealthy, keeping the majority in a state of ignorance allows them to continue the exploitation. The internet has been one of the most liberating tools in this process even if much of the time people use it's phenomenal power to send each other pictures of cats. Remember that the next time you hear politicians wanting to reign in the internet to 'protect children'. They don't care about your children but they do care about their own position and the power and control it gives their 'friends in high places'.

  31. Last comment 3 years ago?!

    Thank you for everything, Mr. Sagan. You changed my perspective on life. Your book, “Pale Blue Dot” sits on my night stand .

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